Dem Sen. Feinstein Returns to Senate After Months of Absence – Concerns Rise as Cameras Show Her

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

According to news accounts, long-serving Democratic senator from California Dianne Feinstein headed back to the Senate on Wednesday but needed help.

Feinstein, who required to be pushed in a wheelchair into the chamber to cast a vote, was seen strolling beside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a video that was shared online.

The senator is “experiencing vision/balance impairments & at times will need to use a wheelchair to travel around the Capitol,” stated Liz Kreutz, a reporter for ABC7 based in San Francisco.

Feinstein, who had been absent for more than two months, was brought back into the Capitol on Thursday, hand trembling, asking “Where am I going?” according to a story in the liberal Huffington Post.

According to The Huffington Post:

She could be heard wondering, “Where am I going?” as she carefully climbed into the wheelchair. She sat down in the chair, her hand noticeably trembling.

She complained, “I’ve got something in my eye,” and her eye looked bloodshot.

In a statement about her condition, Feinstein’s staff provided some details.

“Even though I’ve made significant progress and was able to return to Washington, I’m still experiencing some side effects from the shingles virus,” Feinstein said in the release. “My doctors have advised me to work a lighter schedule as I return to the Senate. I’m hopeful those issues will subside as I continue to recover.”

Feinstein, who is presently the oldest senator at 89 years old, has come under scrutiny recently because of questions about her mental competence that have been put forth by other senators.

Feinstein announced in February that she would not run for reelection in 2024. Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee, three prominent House Democrats, have since come forward and declared their candidacies for Feinstein’s open Senate seat, according to the Daily Wire.

Feinstein disclosed in March that she had shingles, and she has been recovering ever since. Her absence caused the Senate Judiciary Committee’s partisan vote to come to a 10-10 deadlock, which prevented the committee from confirming several of President Joe Biden’s nominees to federal courts across the nation.

A increasing number of left-leaning Democrats, including Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), have called on Feinstein to resign during the past several weeks. Republicans have kept up their pressure by thwarting efforts to replace Feinstein on the Senate Judiciary Committee at the same time.

However, other Democrats were reluctant to demand that she step down.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said to NBC’s Chuck Todd last month, “Dianne Feinstein is my friend.”

“She’s my colleague. We sit next to one another on the Judiciary Committee. She’s done extraordinary things in her public career. Let’s face it, she’s gone through several weeks of real travail over this shingles issue that she was obviously dealing with. She wants to come back,” he continued.

“She said to Chuck Schumer on the phone last week, ‘I want to get on that plane next Monday and be there.’ I want her to come back too. But her future is in her own hands and her family’s consultation. I wish her the best and I hope she can return very soon.”

Sen. Mark Warner responded in the same vein when asked about Feinstein on the ABC Sunday program “This Week.”

“Should she resign?” Martha Raddatz, the host, asked Warner.

“I’m hopeful that Dianne will return as soon as possible,” he answered. “I served with her on the Intelligence Committee. She’s been a great senator. But my hope is she’ll get back to work as soon as possible.”

Feinstein’s statement continued: “I have returned to Washington and am prepared to resume my duties in the Senate. I’m grateful for all the well-wishes over the past couple of months and for the excellent care that I received from my medical team in San Francisco.

“The Senate faces many important issues, but the most pressing is to ensure our government doesn’t default on its financial obligations,” the Senator added. “I also look forward to resuming my work on the Judiciary Committee considering the president’s nominees.”

According to Politico, “Rep. Ro Khanna seemed to slightly step away from his call for Sen. Dianne Feinstein to resign, saying in an interview Thursday he was willing to give her “the benefit of the doubt.””

He later clarified, however, that he still thinks the California senator should resign, regardless of her return to the Senate this week.

In the interview, Khanna wished Feinstein well and said he was “hopeful that she’ll be able to fulfill her duty and vote on the Judiciary Committee, and all the key votes.”

“I stand by what I said at the time, because three months is a long time to be absent without any clarity,” the California Democrat said. “But given where we are, I’m hopeful. I’m giving the situation the benefit of the doubt and hopeful that she’ll be able to fulfill her duty, that’s what I care about.”

If Feinstein were to resign early, California Governor Gavin Newsom would undoubtedly replace her with another Democrat.


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